Telco-Led Revolution Boosts Cybersecurity and Financial Growth in Africa

by | Sep 24, 2023

Africa is currently experiencing a significant digital revolution, with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) leading the way in driving inclusion, security, and innovation. By prioritizing financial inclusion and cybersecurity, the NCC is spearheading telecom-driven strategies that are transforming the continent.

One of the NCC’s main initiatives is the introduction of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code for banking transactions. This innovative service allows Nigerians to conveniently conduct transfers and other banking activities without physically visiting a bank. As a result, mobile money penetration in Nigeria has gone from 1% to an impressive 70%.

Recognizing the importance of collaboration, the African Union (AU) has established a data and policy framework that facilitates information sharing among member nations. This framework enables a unified approach to cybersecurity, empowering African nations to collectively combat cyber threats. However, more countries need to ratify the African cybersecurity convention to establish a strong defense against cybercrimes.

To strengthen cybersecurity efforts, the NCC has established the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT). This specialized team serves as a proactive force in safeguarding the nation’s cyberspace by providing advisory services to telecom companies on protecting themselves from malicious attacks. Additionally, the NCERT offers interventions such as computer systems and mifi to foster innovation and enhance the national system of innovation.

In line with the goal of promoting cybersecurity awareness and fostering collaboration, the Nigerian government, in partnership with the United Nations, organized the Africa Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF). Under the theme of “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security, and Innovation,” stakeholders emphasized the need for harmonization of cybersecurity laws across African countries.

The harmonization of cybersecurity laws plays a critical role in establishing a cohesive and proactive defense against cyber threats. By aligning these laws with data protection and privacy laws, African nations can ensure a comprehensive legal framework that safeguards the digital rights of their citizens. Several African countries, including Nigeria and Ghana, have already taken steps to collaborate on cybersecurity, recognizing the importance of a unified approach.

The telecom-driven financial inclusion strategy implemented in Nigeria has played a crucial role in transforming the lives of millions. With widespread adoption of mobile technology, Nigerians now have easy access to financial services, bridging the gap between traditional banking and the unbanked population. This approach has not only revolutionized the financial landscape but has also propelled economic growth and empowerment throughout the country.

Despite the progress made, it is imperative for more African countries to join the African cybersecurity conventions to strengthen regional cybersecurity measures. A unified approach will enable African nations to share critical information among military and security intelligence sectors, fortifying their defense against non-state actors and state surveillance.

As Africa embraces the digital revolution, unwavering determination is crucial in addressing cybercrimes at a regional level. Governments, regulatory bodies, and private entities must demonstrate commitment and allocate resources to effectively combat cyber threats. Only through such determination can Africa achieve a secure and inclusive digital landscape that fosters innovation and economic prosperity.

In conclusion, the Nigerian Communications Commission is leading the way in Africa’s digital transformation by promoting financial inclusion and enhancing cybersecurity through telecom-driven strategies. The introduction of the USSD code and the establishment of the NCERT have revolutionized financial services and safeguarded cyberspace. However, collaboration, harmonization of cybersecurity laws, and unwavering determination are necessary to address the evolving cyber landscape and propel Africa towards a secure and digitally empowered future.